Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Evangelist or Discipler

Last month I had the great privilege of going to the NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors) conference in Walnut Creek, California.  When you plan to go to a conference you have many expectations of what its going to be like and what you are expecting to get out of it.  What always amazes me is that God has a plan for you and your expectations and plans don't always meet up with His.  Truly I didn't have a direct agenda or goals in going to this conference but I sat back and saw how God was in the details of it all and was showing me what He wanted me to get out of the conference. It was exactly what I needed to hear to the utmost detail.  Again I didn't put much planning on the classes I was attending and it changed as I went along BUT GOD and His Sovereignty shines through all of this through and through.
I've been spending time with a young woman (counseling) who I am not sure if she is saved so I decided at the last minute to attend Stuart Scott's class on "Sharing the Gospel with an Unconverted Counselee."  I was familiar with Stuart Scott because he came to my old church to head up the Biblical Counseling Department, but my husband & I were in the process of selling our business and moving to Northern California so we hadn't had the opportunity to be involved in his ministry or hear him speak much.  As the session began a story unfolded that was so unexpected for me.  He began to share about his children and the concerns and struggles him and his wife had in particular with their daughter.  He talked about how as parents our children make professions of faith at young ages and then as parents we embark on disciplining them when in reality they don't completely understand  or come to a saving knowledge of Christ.  Our children are "Christianized Pagans." They talk the talk but they don't walk the walk.  They have no desire or interest to be in God's Word.  They love going to church but that's because they're friends are there.  They know the truths of the Scripture and can repeat them to you but its apparent that they haven't placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He said, "You can't disciple the lost!" Stuart shared that his daughter at the age of sixteen came to him sobbing with the confession that she couldn't live the lie anymore and that she wasn't a Christian.  He said, "I was so thankful that she knew who she was."  That sentence plays back in my thoughts so much since I've heard them.  The deep faith and trust in Christ that it takes to say those words.  Can I say that when it comes to my own children's salvation?  He had to leave the position that he held at the church and so this confession from his daughter had a huge impact on them as a family.  Two years later his daughter was headed off to college and he asked her if he could share the gospel with her one last time and she agreed, which leads to the thorough gospel presentation that he put together that he uses with all his counselees and went over with all of us in his NANC class.  He talked about how some Christians teach how the outcome of their children's salvation is the parent's responsibility.  He said, "what kind of theology is that? SALVATION IS OF THE LORD! God has called some parents to be evangelist their whole lives or God has called them to be evangelist and then disciplers.  There are many Christian parents with huge guilt trips because they think they're children's salvation depended on them." 

So I ask you, are you an Evangelist or a Discipler?  I ask myself, "am I a evangelist or a discipler?"  God confirmed for me again that my role in my children's life is to be an example of Christ's work in me and that my life is to reflect His grace, love and redemptive work in me.  To be living it out in profound ways.  I need to be preaching the gospel to myself, to them and to others.  God does the work in their hearts and lives in them just like He does in me and continues to do the work.  There are many who are preaching a different message when it comes to parenting.  Others are preaching a method that leads to "works righteousness" and that it ALL depends on what I am doing. This is not what the Bible teaches, nor is it the gospel. Some are even going to the lengths to say that as parents of non-believing children you did not have enough faith in the promises of God and that is the reason your children aren't believers.   Yes God calls us to love and lead our children to Christ BUT the lie is the doing on our part of any shape or form is a guarantee to produce godly children.  God never guarantees us godly children by raising them a certain way.  There are no recipes out there that create godly children.  SALVATION IS OF THE LORD!

"God doesn't promise our children's salvation in response to our obedience, because He never
encourages self-reliance.  It would be against God's character to give us a promise that our children will be saved if we raise them in a certain way.  That would mean that He was telling us to trust in something other than Christ and His grace & mercy.  He would be encouraging us to trust in ourselves, and God never does that.  The way of the Lord is always a way of faith - faith in His goodness, mercy and love.  Our faith is to be in Him, not in ourselves."
 (Give Them Grace pg.62)

I did plan on going to Elyse Fitzpatrick's teaching session which was after Stuart Scott's.  And the exact words came out of her mouth, "SALVATION IS OF THE LORD!!"  Thank you Jesus for being in the details of my everyday life.  After the NANC conference is when I began to read "Give Them Grace" and highly recommend every parent no matter if you're an Evangelist or a Discipler to read it.  

I have one more book to give away on November 27th, 2011 7pm PST.  Same rules applied follow blog, FB or Twitter.  Repost and/or retweet and receive more entries in the giveaway.  I've saved everyone who entered last week as well so you all still have a chance to win as well.  Let me know how you've entered in my comments.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

2 Winners for "Give Them Grace" Book Giveaway

Drumroll please! Thank you for all the entries, follows, tweets & reposts of the giveaway.  The winners for tonight is:
Sarah Harrison Woodward
Jessica Thommarson

Congrats ladies! I messaged you via Facebook to send me your addresses so I can email you your "Give Them Grace" books.  So very excited for you! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Are you raising a Pharisee or a Lover of Jesus?

Is there a book that you've recently read that has stopped you in your tracks? One that rocks you to the core of your being and makes you rethink your Christian walk and how you live your life? "Give Them Grace - Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus" by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson is the book that has done that for me recently.   It's a must read for every Christian mom & dad.  I know that you hear that time and time again but this book will change your perspective not only in the way you interact with your children but it will open up your heart and see how you truly see your Saviour.  Do you see him as the Lawgiver and Judge? As the disappointed Father every time you sin? No, He is the God of Grace who loved me even though I was sinner and paid the price for me, not so that I would live perfectly but live in the grace that He's bestowed on me by paying the price of my sin with His perfect life and sacrifice.
This book isn't a "how to" raise godly children.  Are you disappointed? It's a book to show you that your children need the gospel not the law.  What saved us in our trespasses? Not the law, but His grace! Hallelujah for God's grace.  Hallelujah for a Christian parenting book that finally preaches the truth of His grace and not the burden of the law.

"Nearly every parenting book you'll read will tell you how to be a successful parent of successful,
seemingly sinless children.  Our modern worship of personal success stories is clearly seen
in the number of books that outline the methods for producing spiritual giants.  Whether
they encourage family-integrated education and worship, public schools, immersing our family in the culture, or moving to a little house on the prairie, being a successful parent and raising
successful kids is the only paradigm we seem to be willing to accept.  But what if we're measuring
success in the wrong way?  Could it be that our perception of success isn't God's plan
for us or for our family? What if he's going to use our failure and our children's rebellion to make us humble comforters of other sufferers for his glory?" pg.148

"Do you hear the underlying message of that best-selling book? Your child's success depends
entirely on your ability to communicate to him in the right way. "If we do our job right as parents to instill these values, our kids will be a success at whatever they do! We'll have trophy kids!  This is the message of every book about parenting that is not rooted in the grace of God demonstrated
in the gospel. ..... parenting books are not Christian if their primary message is law.  If their
message isn't rooted and grounded in the truth that you and your children are deeply sinful
yet deeply loved, in reality its nothing more than a glorification of the will and work of the parent.
Aside from placing a crushing burden of guilt and fear upon the backs of dads and moms, the thought that we can change any one's heart is laughable. Change our children's hearts?
Only God has the power to change the heart!.....

When we make parenting more complex than God has made it, we afflict ourselves with burdens
too heavy for us to carry, and we are unintentionally presuming that the good news of the gospel
is insufficient." pg 161

There isn't a page in this book of mine that isn't highlighted in yellow.  These are only some of the quotes that made the ground underneath me move and quake that I walk on daily.  If you know me you wouldn't think or even suggest that I am legalistic or struggle with that in my Christian walk but this book really made me examine how I have explained or have been an example of what the gospel is to my children. 
A few weeks ago I was driving my oldest son to school and I asked him, "What makes a person a Christian?" He proceeded to give me a list of things Christians don't do.  My worse fear may have come true.  Have I raised a Pharisee? Have a raised a rule keeper or a Jesus' lover? I proceeded to tell him that a Christian isn't necessarily a person who goes to church, doesn't cuss, doesn't do drugs, etc.  Just because you do those things isn't what makes you a Christian.  It's what you love and do you love Christ more than anything and want to live your life for Him is why you do or don't do those things.  We go to church because we love Christ and want to worship Him and be with His people.  We try to live holy lives because He is holy and we love Him and want to please Him, but doing those things doesn't make us holy or make us right with Him.  He has done that already by His death on the cross. 

I want to get this book in parent's hands so I will be doing a book giveaway Sunday, November 20th & Sunday, November 27th. You can enter numerous ways and each one will give you another entry in the giveaway.  You can  follow my blog, "like" my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, repost & retweet the giveaway on your pages or blogs. I will keep all entries till we give away both copies of "Give Them Grace" on Nov. 27th.  Leave comments on my blog to show me which way you've entered the giveaway.  Please include me in your reposts so I can accurately keep track of your entries. 
I will continue to post my favorite quotes of "Give Them Grace" during the duration of the two giveaways. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I See You Now For Who You Truly Are

I can honestly say that the last few years have been the hardest I've experienced but yet if you were to ask me, "What would you do differently?" I don't know if I would do it differently or ask God to change it.  It has been the most trying of times but truly the best of times.  I can look back the last four years and see God so clearly sustaining, guiding, instructing, stretching, providing His will for my life and my family. 
One of the books God used to mightly in my life was "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges.  I read this book right after I got married in 1992.  What does that tell you about me? I remember it had a huge impact on me to the point that when I wanted to start a Bible study with the young ladies at church that was the book I went for and grabbed.  What unfolded was God displaying His magnificent power and beauty of His sovereignity to me in ways that I've never experienced before.  As the world as I knew it seemed to be shaking and crumbling around me, God used that book to remind me of who He was.  A good and loving God who was in control of every detail of my life who wanted me to trust Him with every aspect of my life even though it might mean that my life as I know it would change completely but it was for my good and His glory.  God used that book to show me the idols in my heart.  I was trusting in those idols not in Him.  At the end of the day, it was my flesh and it was what others thought of me.  I learned that my hope was tied to this world instead of the living hope of Jesus Christ.  God began to strip me of these idols.  It hurt.  Hurt so deep that the only way to get out of this deep hole was to look up and say, "all I have is Christ."  I am thankful for a loving God who is using everything in my life to refine me into the image of His Son.  Who created me, who knows me and loves me that nothing escapes His plan for me.  As the ground beneath me was shaking (not literally) acting like Job and asking and questioning why God would allow this in my life.  I felt as though God was saying to me, "do you trust me?" Bridges goes through the attributes of  God and shows us who God truly is and uses the truths of Scripure to back it up.  I am convinced that you cannot know God if you don't believe who the Scriptures says He is.  It's not until that you view yourself rightly compared to the God of the Bible that you can completely understand His beauty, splendor and majesty to where you completely surrender your life wholely to Him and be able to say, "yes Lord, I trust you!"  Job understood this completely in Job 42: 1-5

"Then Job answered the Lord and said, "I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel
without knowledge?  Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.  I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;"

See Him for who He truly is,  the one who holds every detail of your life in His hand.  His name is Jesus.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Controls You?

There is a reoccurring theme that I can't seem to get away from.  Whenever I open the Word of God, there it is illuminating from the pages.  When I go to open a book to read, it's popping off the pages.  When I hear sermons on the radio it seems to be the message of the preacher as he speaks to me in my car as I am driving.  God has me focused on His love.  I don't think I've ever had a theme verse, but I would have to say that 2 Corinthians 5: 14 has me hooked.

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this, that one has died for all, there all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised."

The question that keeps going around and around in my thoughts and heart is, does the love of Christ control me? What does control me? What rules me? What motivates me? What brings a smile to my face? Is it the love of Christ? Christ's love drove him to the cross.  His love for me is why I may live.  If I am controlled by Christ's love than I no longer live for myself but for HIM.  When people meet me or speak with me do they experience the love of Christ?  Do my children experience the love of Christ because of me?

"The secret of the early Christians, the early Protestants, Puritans & Methodists
was that they were taught about the love of Christ, and they became filled with a knowledge of it.
Once a man has the love of Christ in his heart you need not train him to witness; he will do it.
He will know the power, the constraint, the motive; everything is already there.
It is plain lie to suggest that people who regard this knowledge of the love of Christ as the supreme thing are useless, unhealthy mystics.  
The servants of God who have most adorned the life and the history of the Christian Church have always been men who have realized that this is the most important thing of all,
and they have spent hours in prayer seeking His face and enjoying His love.
The man who knows the love of Christ in his heart can do more in one hour than the busy man
can do in a century.  God forbid that we should ever make of activity an end in itself.
Let us realize that the motive must come first, and that the motive ever be the love of Christ."

Martin Lloyd-Jones, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 253

I want to sit and bathe in the love of Christ.  I don't ever want to leave the foot of the cross that displays His love for me.  The wrath of God is no longer for me because I am washed by the blood & love of Christ.  Are you controlled by the love of Christ?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Letter From Mary Love - My Dear Heart

I first heard of Mary Love's letter to her husband when my family and I were at the Resolved Conference a few weeks back in late June.  Rick Holland read her letter within his sermon, The Believer's Right Response to Difficulty.   I don't think there was a dry eye in the audience, but that's not the reason for me posting her letter is to make you cry.  If I were to have a poster child for my blog, other than Jesus Christ, it would be Mary Love. Let me set the scene for you.  Mary Love is married to Christopher Love, a brilliant young Welsh preacher.  She is 8 months pregnant with their 5th child, two living and two deceased.  Her husband, Christopher Love is imprisoned for treason by the English government and as far as she knew to be executed the next morning.  These were the last words that she had for her husband. 

My Dear Heart
July 14, 1651

Before I write a word further, I beseech thee think not that it is thy wife but a friend now that writes  to thee.  I hope though hast freely given up thy wife and children to God, who hath said in Jeremiah 49:11, "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widow trust in me."  Thy Maker will be my husband, and a Father to thy children.  O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations.  I desire freely to give thee up into they Father's hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ.
I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my unspeakable loss,but wholly keep my eye fixed upon they inexpressible and inconceivable gain.  Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory.  Thou leavest but children, brothers, and sisters to go to the Lord Jesus, they eldest Brother.  Thou leavest friends on earth to go to the enjoyment of saints and angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect in glory.  Thou does but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace.  And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all thinks here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above.  I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes they feet trample on the loss of earth.
My dear, I know God hath not only prepared glory for thee, and thee for it, but I am persuaded that He will sweeten the way for thee to come to the enjoyment of it.  When thou are putting on they clothes that morning, O think, "I am putting on my wedding garments to go to
be everlastingly married to my Redeemer."
When the messenger of death comes to thee, let him not seem dreadful to thee, but look on him as a messenger that brings thee tidings of eternal life.  When thou goest up the scaffold, think (as thou saidst to me) that it is but thy fiery chariot to carry thee up to thy Father's house.
And when thou layest down they precious head to receive thy Father's stroke, remember what thou saidst to me: Though thy head was severed from thy body, yet in a moment thy soul should be united to they Head, the Lord Jesus, in heaven.  And though it may seem something bitter, that by hands of men we are parted a little sooner than otherwise we might have been, yet let us consider that it is the decree and will of our Father, and it will not be long ere we shall enjoy
one another in heaven again. 
Let us comfort one another with these sayings.  Be comforted, my dear heart.  It is but a little stroke and thou shalt be there where the weary shall be at rest and where the wicked shall cease from troubling.  Remember that thou mayest eat thy dinner with bitter herbs, yet thou shalt have a sweet supper with Christ that night.  My dear, by what I write unto thee, I do not hereby undertake to teach thee; for these comforts I have received from the Lord by thee.  I will write no more, nor trouble thee any further, but commit thee into the arms of God with whom ere long thee and I shall be.
Farewell, my dear, I shall never see thy face more till we both behold the face of the Lord Jesus at that great day.
Mary Love

Her letter reveals it all.  Christ is her Husband who is her All in All.  My prayer is that we may be women, like Mary Love, who don't allow our circumstances to shake up our faith but know that our lives our written out by His Sovereign hand, which results in us to stand on the solid ground of Jesus Christ.  At the end of the day,  He is our Groom.

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Robe That Was Made For Me

Who would of ever thought that I would be turning on the heater because I'm cold in late May.  Isn't it almost June? Shouldn't summer be almost here. Thunderstorms and downpour of rain with mixed hail has been our forecast in the last week. Two counties over a tornado touch and destroyed some farm buildings. On the news you hear about the devastation in the Southern United States caused by tornadoes where people have lost their homes and loved ones.  People are missing and can't be found since the storm.
I remember it as if it was yesterday, I was 23 years old, newly married and my husband and I were serving on junior high staff at our church.  We were studying the book of James in our junior high department.  I was so excited to be serving, learning and sharing with these young ladies.  We'd meet Tuesday nights to go over the lesson that was being taught and preached on Sunday. As leaders we'd use that week to dig deeper into God's Word to prepare to lead our small groups on Sunday. 
In that first Sunday's message I was struck with a truth that I still carry with me today.

James 1: 1-4
"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes
who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing."

It's one word "when".  Our junior high pastor said, "it doesn't say "if you encounter various trials", it says, "when you encounter various trials."  Which means there is no question about it, trials are coming!
But yet when they come we act so surprised and shocked.  James gives us the warning siren that the tornado is coming and be prepared but when the tornado comes we are shocked as if we never received the warning at all.  We don't understand why God would allow it.  We question God love, grace and mercy and want to know why.  Trials are all around us.  You can't say that you don't know anyone who isn't hurting in some way or another whether its financial loss, relationships on the brink of divorce, loved ones struggling or even dying of cancer.  It's all around us but we are still shocked and don't understand why.  I know in my own depths of my soul and my heart I've had the thought and said, "I didn't sign up for this. Why are you doing this to me Lord?"  We knew what Christ was offering.  He made it very clear.

Matthew 10:38-39
"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
He who has found his life will lost it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."

Luke 9: 23
"And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me."

We weren't ever promised a lap of luxury in the Christian life but in the recesses of our minds we must think that. The apostle James tells us why! Why are we destined to have trials?  It's the "testing of our faith." God wants to conform us to His image (Romans 8:29).  How can we be conformed to His image if we are so tied to the things of this world? How can we be conformed to Christ's image if we have earthly wants and desires that still entangle us? (2 Tim 2:3-4)
I love, love, love, Elyse Fitzpatrick's book, A Steadfast Heart.  I want to share with you some of the encouraging words Elyse shares from the outcome of  her trials.
"He's used our suffering as the means to reveal to us a new understanding about Himself,
His great goodness, and our considerable need for a Saviour."
'Our trials was fashioned for us by a wise god who knew exactly what kind of suffering
we needed.  The trials we endure are meant to get at the idolatry, self-love,
and independent unbelief that God desires to purge from our life.
They're also meant to cause us to love Jesus Christ more and more, and sometimes
they're not discipline at all but rather part of God's mysterious plan to glorify Himself."
"Peaceful fruit of righteousness" that is the result of God's perfect plan for us
is luscious, and there's only one way to genuinely savor this fruit: through suffering."
"We each have a road marked out for us by the Lord.  Suffering isn't one-size-fits-all.
No.  He's woven the exact robe that He wants you to wear, and it will fit you perfectly,
pinching where it should pinch and comforting where you need it most."
I have a robe that was designed just for me by my Saviour, the lover of my soul.  Who wants to refine me into His image and not my own.  Who loves me with a love that will not let me go.  I pray that as I currently hear the storm sirens warning me a storm is coming that I am assured and know there is nothing that comes my way that isn't from my Lord's sovereign hands.  I want to be confident in His love and grace for me, like Daniel, not to be afraid of what's ordained for me but know that God is in it with me. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spiritual Mothers - The Goal is Love

      I haven't been bloggin' as much lately.  Life has been rather crazy but in the midst of the craziness I had a great opportunity to share with the women at my church.  A mother - daughter team took on the adventure of putting on a Mother - Daughter Tea.  I was so bummed at first, being that I am a mother of three boys I didn't think that I would be able to go.  An opportunity presented itself and I was able to take two young ladies who I love spending time with to the tea since their mommies were out of town.  I was asked to share about what it means to be a "SPIRITUAL MOTHER."
       This was really hard for me to prepare.  I felt that I could say so much, but I really wanted to focus and get down to the roots of today's topic, "SPIRITUAL MOTHER."  I will share, what it is, who does it, what it is not, but most of all the main ingredient.  I was not raised in a Christian home so I don't share my faith with my mom, but even though we don't have our faith in common, I've learned a HUGE important thing from her.....LOVE!!!
    Love will be our theme today.  LOVE is why Christ was to be born! LOVE is what drove Him to the cross! LOVE is why He is alive and LOVE is why we live our lives for Him.  LOVE!  If love is what motivates Christ for everything He has done, than it should be our motivating force in all that we do as well.
I Timothy 1:5
"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience
and a sincere faith."

John MacArthur comments on this verse, "This is the love of choice and the will, characterized by self denial and self sacrifice for the benefit of others."

   God calls us to LOVE.  To love Him and to love others.  That is God's will for us, right?

Titus 2: 3-5
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious, gossips nor
enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women
to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home,
kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the Word of God will not be dishonored."

There is that word again, LOVE! I am suppose to do that, LOVE! It's everywhere in God's Word, LOVE! I know that I was asked to speak to you and convince you, I am sure to persuade you and to encourage you to be SPIRITUAL MOTHERS, but in the same breath I have to ask you, do you love? What do you love? Who do you love? Why do you love? What is it that you love?
What's the answer? Is it Jesus? Are you in love with Jesus?

Women, if you want to attract other women to disciple, be in love with Jesus!
If you want to be attractive to your husbands, be in love with Jesus!
If you want to be admired and loved by your children, be in love with Jesus!
If you want to be a witness to the world, be in love with Jesus!

I am not going to give you a "to-do" list on how to be a SPIRITUAL MOTHER - DISCIPLER, I am going to ask you what's on your love list?
When the things we love or what we are holding so tightly to are loosened from our grips by trials, we are challenged to ask....what do you love? Who do you love? Why do you love? Is it Jesus?
Life and our loves become very crystal clear in the light of eternity, can you take what you love with you?
You are probably sitting there asking yourself "what does this have to do with being a "SPIRITUAL MOTHER?" EVERYTHING!!!  If the love of Christ isn't what motivates us in every aspect of our life, how are we any different than any other religion?

the goal of our instruction is LOVE - from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith

Our goal in our instruction is LOVE....we teach so the goal is LOVE, because LOVE produces a love for God which produces a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.  If anyone wants to spend time with me, is it because I love JESUS?  That should be the only reason!

I Cor 13:1 " If I speak with tongues of men and of angels but do not have love,
 I have become a noisygong or a clangy cymbal."

A noisy gong or a clanging cymbal? Is that what I sound like when I speak?

Young women, why do you want to spend time with older woman? Well, she has really obedient children and a really nice home.  There is no recipe, just one ingredient - IS SHE IN LOVE WITH JESUS?
Older woman, why do you want to spend time with that younger woman? Well, she really needs to learn how to be modest.  Someone needs to talk to her about her clothes.  Older woman, IS SHE IN LOVE WITH JESUS?  Go after her heart not her clothes. 

the goal of our instruction is LOVE from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith

If I am in love with Jesus, than I will be modest.  If I am in love with Jesus I will be a lover of my husband.  If I am in love with Jesus, I will love and instruct my children.  Younger women pursue older women who are in love with Jesus! Older women show and be examples to the younger what it is to be in love with Jesus!
I know that I've shared this story before with you.  There was a young woman who came back to our church and I just had this desire to get to know her.  (Ladies, if you get that urge, listen to it)  I asked her to coffee.  We went to coffee right away.  We spent a couple of hours together talking and getting to know one another.  I asked a lot of questions and she told me what she had been up to the last few years.   A month later or so, this same young woman was in my small group at our yearly women's prayer retreat.  After our first session, this young woman wanted to share her heart with the group.  She wanted to say how much she appreciated the fact that when I took her to coffee I actually got to know her and spend time with her.  In uncontrollable tears, she said, "that was the first time an older woman ever took her to coffee without having a list of all the things she was doing wrong." 
When I die and my faith becomes sight, Jesus is not going to say to me, "you can't come in. you have a feather in your hair!" Remember ladies, its not what we do, its what we love!  Are we in love with Jesus?
What does it look like?  It could be a weekly meeting and going through a book.  Sharing a meal.  Having coffee and talking.  Encouraging one another to love and good deeds.  Texting, writing, or emailing Scripture to one another.  Praying for one another.  Just hanging out in each other's homes. Living side by side.  Listening, loving, crying, hugging, grace, mercy, gentleness, patience.  It's getting a phone call from a younger woman in tears, so many she can barely speak.  You tell her to come over.  I am making dinner for my family, but we'll talk.  You get dinner on the table and than go for a walk with her and you listen.  You encourage with God's Word, you love on her, and you point her to Christ. 
Still today I have "older women" in my life that I have had formal times with, but my most favorite are our informal times....when I watch them from sometimes even from a distance.  These are just some of the things I've learned from the "Spiritual Mothers" in my life.  One thing they all share, they're in LOVE with JESUS.
- when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't sleep - PRAY!
- when I don't have money to give, open my home and share a meal.
- my home is for ministry
- always wear something soft & silky to bed
- that I can be a strong woman, but still be a submissive woman
- I can have a sense of humor and even snort when I laugh

Let's end with John 21:15-17
"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John,
do you love Me more than these?'  He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love you.'  He said to him, 'Tend My lambs.'  He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of John,
do you love me?'  He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love you.'  He said to him,
'Shepherd My sheep.'  He said to him, the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?'
Peter was grieved because He said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.'  Jesus said to him, 'Tend My sheep.'

John MacArthur's commentary states, "When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, he used a word for love that signified total commitment.  Peter responded with a word for love that signified his love for Jesus, but not necessarily his total commitment.  This was not because he was reluctant to express that greater love, but because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past.  He was, perhaps, now reluctant to make a claim of supreme devotion when, in the past, his life did not support such a claim.  Jesus pressed home to Peter the need for unswerving devotion by repeatedly asking Peter if he loved Him supremely.  The essential message here is that Jesus demands total commitment from His followers.  Their love for Him must place Him above their love for all else.  Jesus confronted Peter with love because He wanted Peter to lead the apostles, but in order for Peter to be an effective shepherd, his overwhelming drive must exemplify supreme love for his Lord."
I think the coolest thing ever, other than Christ returning, would be this:  I walk into Starbucks.  I order my drink and as I'm waiting for my coffee I over hear two women talking.....
Have you ever visited FCF?  Well let me tell you, all those women there at that church are in love with Jesus! The talk of our town would be that the women of FCF are in love with Jesus! Every single one of us, madly in love with JESUS!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beauty From Within

I was asked a few weeks ago to share with the young ladies in my church about beauty.  It was a day where the  moms planned to pamper them with mini facials, manicures and pedicures because that's what girls like to do but not without sharing with them what God says about "true beauty."

Psalm 139:13-18
"For You formed my inward parts,
You wove me in my mother's womb;
I will give thanks to You, for I am
fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them,
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with you."

What does Psalm 139 say about God? God made me in my mother's womb.  Before I was even born He knew me and planned out my days.  He is sovereign and in control of every detail of who I am and how long I will be alive on this earth.  He designed the color of my hair with the texture and form of my hair (straight or curly). He designed the color of my eyes, my height, my shape, and whether my skin would be light or dark.  Psalm 139 tells us that nothing escaped His control of how he created us.
One of the moms shared with me a video of a woman speaking to other women about being content with how God made you.  This woman asked if we were to take two different colored dots, red & green dots, and place them on our bodies.  We'd take the red dots and place them on the places we don't like about our bodies and than take the green dots and place them on the places we do like about our bodies.  What if we would be given an opportunity to meet our God, our creator, and show Him the red dots.  Would we show Him all the things we don't like about ourselves?

Isaiah 45:9 " Woe to the one who quarrels with the Maker--An earthenware vessel among
the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, "What are you doing?'
Or the thin you are making say, He has no hands?"

Isaiah 64:8 "But now , O Lord You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of your hand."

Job 10:9 "Remember now, that you have made me as clay; Did you not pour me out like milk;
And curdle me like cheese; clothe me with skin and flesh,
And knit me together with bones and sinews?"

When you were taking your pottery class a few weeks, as you were crafting, molding, shaping, carving, and adding all the intricate details of your bowl, vase or pitcher....you had a purpose and or reason for why you made that vessel the way you did?  God doesn't make mistakes.  He made us for His purposes for my life. 
When I was 19 years old I knew the truth but because I had unresolved sin in my life I decided to pursue my own purpose for my life and that was to have a career in "show business" or "Hollywood."  I wanted to pursue a career of acting, dancing and singing.  After three years of pursuing the ways of the world I finally realized that the truths that the world was feeding me were lies at the core.  After three years of being constantly judged for my outward appearance this is the verse the Lord gave me when He brought me back into His fold:
I Samuel 16:7
"Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his
stature, because I have rejected him; For God sees not as
man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart."

God was instructing Samuel the prophet on how to pick out the next king of Israel.  Samuel was looking at all the handsome and strong men of Israel and God was instructing him and telling him ....that's not what I am after in a king.  I am after his heart for Me!

Deut 6:5 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your might"

Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise"

Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not lean on your own understanding."

Matthew 6:21 "for where your treasure is, there is your heart."

Psalm 40:8 " I delight to do your will , O my God,
Your Law is within my heart."

Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

I could share so many more verses regarding the heart but I think we can see from these verses and others is  that God is about our hearts?  One more verse to share....

I Peter 3: 3-4
"Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair,
of wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel;
but let it be the hidden person of the heart,
with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is very precious in the sight of God."

As I dug deep into God's Word I realized that this verse is specifically speaking to married women and women who are married to non believers, but even that being said I still think that we can apply it to all women.  The context of the book of I Peter is written to Christians.  Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Peter is sharing with these Christians how to endure in their suffering.  He tells slaves to be submissive to their masters in the previous chapters and than tells these same Christians to be submissive to the government or authority placed above them.  Peter begins Chapter 3 of I Peter telling wives to be submissive to their husbands.  This can apply to single women with the fact that we all have authority placed above us.  Our parents, teachers, coaches, employers, pastors/elders....the list goes on and on.  How does God want us to respond as Christian women? 

"but let it be the hidden person of the heart,
with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is very precious in the sight of God."

Does this verse mean we don't wear make-up? Does this verse mean we don't wear jewelry? Does this mean we don't do our hair? NO!!!! It means that God wants us to be more concerned about our HEARTS!
God made us and when He made us women He knew that we'd enjoy styling our hair, wearing make up and wearing nice clothes but He also knew that these things would distract us from what is more important - HIM and OUR HEARTS toward HIM!

Elizabeth George says in her study on the book of Esther....
"Beauty - It's refreshing to be reminded of God's standards for true beauty.
Faith and character - not external appearances - are what's important to God.
He cares about your heart - not your hair, or your facial features, or your figure.
Is yours a heart that finds favor with Him?"

What condition does God want my heart to be?  "gentle & quiet"  Does that mean I whisper when I talk?
NO!!! The tone of my voice or volume is not necessarily an indicator or equal the condition of my heart.  So what does "gentle and quiet" mean?
(Excerpt from I Peter study from Elizabeth George) ....As eighteenth-century theologian and teacher J.A. Bengel puts it, ....
"Gentle (or meek) has to do with the condition of the mind and the heart,
means not creating disturbances, has to do with affections and feelings."

"Quiet has to do with a tranquility arising from within,
causing no disturbance to others, means bearing with tranquility the disturbances
caused by others.  Applies to words, countenance, and actions."

How do we respond when we are asked to do something by our parents that we really don't want to do? How do we respond when we are told no?  How do we respond to trials? Or suffering? Whether is physical or mental suffering?

Chuck Swindoll says, "even in the 'silent' category, we are never to pout, sulk, scheme, bargain, coerce, or humiliate."  Swindoll concludes with this thought, "women who use this strategy are not trusting God to change their husbands' lives.  They're trusting in themselves."

I Peter 3:4 says, its a "incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit"...some would translate "imperishable."  What does "incorruptible" or "imperishable" mean? It won't decay or rot.  Our outer bodies with decay as we get older, right? But what about our heart? Our hearts will last forever but our appearance will decay.  What is God telling us? He wants us to spend more time adorning our hearts  than our appearance.  With that in mind, how much time do you spend getting ready in the morning verses spending time in God's Word adorning your heart?

Elizabeth George writes in her book on I Peter: "As a parting thought on this
topic that is so vital to being a woman after God's own heart, consider these words
by Bible scholar Dr. John MacArthur: 'Here [here in gentle and quiet spirit]
is beauty that never decays, as the outward body does, Gentle is actually
'meek or humble' and 'quiet' describes the character of her action and reaction
to her husband and life in general.  Such is precious no only to her husband,
but also to God."

I am not saying, do not wear make-up, jewelry or do your hair.  What I am saying is be more concerned and spend more time about the condition of your heart before God and others God has placed in your life than your appearance.  Let's not use the world's or man's standards for beauty, which is corruptible, but use God's standard for beauty, which is the condition of my heart toward Him and others.

Proverbs 31:30
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord,
she shall be praised."

Monday, January 31, 2011

We Are Different But the Same....

My husband's cousin said to me a few weeks ago that they loved how my three boys were so different and how we allowed them to be different.  They appreciated how my husband and I "celebrated" their differences.  The following week someone else not even previe to the previous conversation or related made the same observation, "how different my three boys were and how they admired that about our family.
I was actually taken back by the comments.  In reality, I've always known that they are different from one another but I always thought everyones' kids were, right?
I have a "mighty hunter."  I have a "farmer." And last but not least our "athlete."  I don't know if "celebrate" is the word to describe how we raised them, but I do remember when my oldest was little and he didn't understand why is brother wasn't like him.  I shared with him that God made us all different for a reason.  First of all, it would be so boring if we were all the same but also that God made us different so we all had different roles and jobs in this life.  God made farmers so non-farmers like myself can go to the store and purchase their products. I am grateful that I gave birth to a "farmer" so I can reap the benefits of the garden he's grown.  I can't grow anything green.
I had the awesome privledge of speaking to the women of our church at our yearly prayer retreat.  Before I began with what God had laid on my heart for our time together I shared with them that God had made me a "passionate" person and not to misunderstand my passion for judgement but that it was just how God made me.  One of the ladies later shared with me how she has a granddaughter who is very passionate and realized that day that God made her that way, different than they other family members.

Romans 12: 4 -13

"For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same
function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually member one of another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them
accordingly; if prohecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who
teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation;
 he who gives, with liberality;
he who leads, with diligence, he who shows mercy with cheerfulness.  Let love be withouthypocrisy. 
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give perference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality."

I was 18 when I made a profession of faith.  I knew I needed a Saviour to save me from my sin.  I strived to dress, act and do like a "young Christian woman" should dress, act and do.  I struggled with my sin and I struggled with the "whys" in my life.  I didn't understand why He did why He did.  I struggled to be conformed to the image of a "Christain woman".  I struggled with my will over His will for my life.
I left the church within the year of my profession of faith.

Three years later I rededicated my life to Christ.  I had no more "whys" because now I knew my need for my Saviour and my Lord. I no longer asked why because I saw His Soverign Hand in my life.   I knew that He needed to do the transforming work in me,  not me.  He put women in my life who showed me His grace.  He showed me through the example of these women ....that I can snort when I laugh because He gave me my sense of humor.....when I have nothing in my pockets to give I can open my home and serve Him by serving others .....I can be a strong woman but also a submissive wife.....that becoming a believer doesn't mean that I have no joy in my life but instead my face lights up with the "joy that surpasses all understanding" no matter what my day entails.

God made us all different to display His glory in us, not for our own glory.  It's what He's doing in my life to change me.   It's His work in me, not my work in me.  I don't have to conform to the image of a "Christian woman"....because when He saved me He made me a woman who wants and desires to be "Christ-like".  He is conforming me to the image of Christ. Thank you Jesus for your grace.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winners of the "Comforts from the Cross" Giveaway

Sorry it took me awhile ....didn't realize what a crazy week the 11th would be (my husband's birthday) and followed by a trip out of town. I decided to give away two books because of the overwhelming response to the giveaway. If you layered the reposting it gave you extra layers to the "giveaway"...so drum roll please! BONNIE & GRIG are the two winners of the giveaway!
I really was overwhelmed by the positive comments and responses.  Thank you to everyone who participated. 
 More giveaways coming in the next few weeks and months to come!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Comforts From the Cross" Giveaway

I am a newbie to blogging, if you couldn't tell, but one thing I've noticed in my own bloggin' endeavors is that there are "giveaways" from time to time for visiting or commenting on your blog.  I've decided to do the same.....so I am giving away a book close to my heart, Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  I've read this book and will continue to read it throughout my life.  It truly is what it says, there are 31 small chapters designated to take you to the foot of the cross in daily increments.  Each chapter,even though only a few pages in length, takes you to the cross in ways you have never contemplated your Saviour and what He has done for His beloved. I have given this book to friends as gifts and they would agree how much it has blessed their soul.

If you become a "follower" of my blog - you will be entered for the giveaway.

If you leave a comment on my blog - you will be entered for the giveaway.

If you repost the giveaway on your Facebook and/or Twitter - you will be entered for the giveaway (Make sure to tag me on your repost).

I will announce the "giveaway" winner on January 11th, 2011.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What Would the Movie Say?

We tend to watch old movies in our home.  AMC or Turner Classics is a channel we watch quite frequently.  A movie we watched this week was, The Comic, with Dick Van Dyke as the main character Billy Bright.  The movie opens up at the funeral of the main character and the main character is the narrator for the movie.  Billy Bright takes you through his life and ends again at his funeral.  It ended up being a very sad movie.   He returns to the end regretting the course of his life and the choices he made.  He was a very selfish man and only lived to gratified himself.  He ended up dying alone and with nothing left after all his selfish ambitions.  I think Billy Bright would agree with King Solomon, "Its all vanity!"

If there was a movie of your life, what would the movie say about who you are? Would it reveal what you love and strive for?  If you were to play it back in your mind, is it regretful or joyful?
There is a movie playing currently that people are watching.  Believers and unbelievers are watching how your story plays out "live".  What do they see? What would they say? What do believers say about you? What are you characterized for?
Apostle Paul commended the Thessalonian church by saying, "constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfast of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father," (1 Thessalonians 1:3). 

Are we known for our work of faith?

Is our labor of love active ingredient in our relationships? 

Are we characterized for our steadfast hope in Christ?

Would believers and unbelievers alike say.....

"how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."
I Thessalonians 1:9-10

What will the movie critics say about the movie of your life when it comes to an end?

Jonathon Edward's Resolutions

#6 "Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live."

 #7 "Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do,
 if it were the last hour of my life."

May we all live with the Audience of One all to the glory of God!